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Paul Miller: If God is Real, Why Do We Suffer?

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
July 17, 2022 10:00 pm

Paul Miller: If God is Real, Why Do We Suffer?

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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July 17, 2022 10:00 pm

If God is real, why do we suffer? Author Paul Miller proposes a new framework for life’s losses—and revolutionizes the way we see God in our pain.

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Suffering often feels like a sucker punch, especially when it hits and your confused you don't know where you are.

It's a way of participating in Christ because when all of us are in these Don rains these J curves when you do when you're helpless you pray welcome to family life today to help you pursue the relationship the matter mouth and Wilson Dave Wilson and you can find his life or on our family life, family life today so when I first gave my life to Christ as a junior in college, I had this belief.

I think a lot of people might resonate with this, that if you give your life to Christ. It will be better yet why a lot of everything will be better. Yeah, I mean if I give Mary my marriage be better my fantasy. Everything will be better with Jesus like everything better with Coke or Pepsi. While it's true in a way, it's just you weren't expecting bad things to know I really thought there would be pain. I mean, a month later end up in the hospital with a knee surgery that I thought would in my college football career and I remember laying in the hospital bed going. I did not sign up for this. I thought you would make my life better. You've made my life were seeming Jesus. I felt like I was sort of my lament at the time, but I think a lot of us walk into the Christian life.

Thinking it's going to be just glorious from here on out, and I think that's a myth. We need to dispel the bits we got Paul Miller in the studio today if they will live today in Orlando. You been on family like today before the Little Rock the first time to Orlando right ball right that's correct.

Well, family life are glad you're with us. It's great to be here yeah tell the listeners a little bit about what you do. I know you right but you teach a lot on what I just brought up this topic of how the Christian life is really going to be Cali what my work and the mission that I directors call see Jesus and were a discipling mission.

So I'm a disciple or who learn the craft of writing in order to disciple better so my passion is Christ formation in the church so this J curve is one aspect of Christ formation. The J curve is like the J goes down into death and up into resurrection and the idea of it is the Christian life is shaped like the J which is Jesus life. He goes down into his death and up into his resurrection and enthronement. That's why the upper part of the J's perfect for that. And I barred the term out of the world of economics so you think of WW JD. What would Jesus do, and I think that's great. Like I think that people think about that. I think that's a good thing to do. I'm not knocking that at all, or belittling it. But for most people that can translate as just mere niceness. You know, so to become like Jesus is to become nicer which is is good to know, especially from where I am in Philadelphia where niceness is kind of a low ebb is only filled out well. We cut I mean you know the Eagles this a number of years ago, but Santa came out on the field and they the Eagles fans boomed trying to not enter but the idea of this idea of the J curve is that the normal Christian life goes down into death and up into resurrection just like Jesus life so the entire Christian life then is a reenacting of Jesus dying and rising. So to become like Jesus is much more than niceness. But it's entering the story of his life and that's really what I did not understand initially again about your brand-new phone from 20 years old.

I'm a college kid but when I pick up your book the J curve, you know, I didn't even pick that up on Michael what is the J curve.

Even looking at the subtitle dying and rising with Jesus in every day life. Yes yeah but explain this whole idea because I don't think it's a general understanding for most of us as followers of Christ. Let me just give you one story that was one of the times where this was particularly fresh on my mind, but we were going from Philadelphia to Orlando and I was taking my daughter Kim with me had six children.

Yeah, we have six children. Kim's are fourth and she's got some significant disabilities. It was a speaking weekend I was speaking over in Central Florida and I thought you know what all will take him with me and give Jill a break for the weekend and she has autism so doing things the first time can, overwhelm her. You know, so we we get the long-term parking.

She starts complaining because she goes through bookbag and mom didn't pack her book. We get to the bus stand to take the bus to long-term parking and II got these boxes and Kim to get on the bus and I'm panicking in the door shut on me and Kim starts laughing and Vanessa started Kim, you know we get into security and she starts arguing is recovering through security with the TSA official I'm not not the place to argue yet right. She wouldn't put her speech computer which he speaks through on the conveyor belt because she says this is my voice yanked it out of her hands and put on the conveyor belt. I've a few other mishaps happen and were in the back of the plane she's fully electronic. She's listening to her book. She got her speech computer and the pilot comes on and says were 12th in line for takeoff, and Kim can't see any of these other planes, but she hates waiting in line to just knowing she's in a line like if you lied. It would a blast. Okay, so Kim has this grand mall meltdown in the back of the plane and I'm sitting there thinking this was a mistake. I will never do this again. I bet you know and Harding you're getting ready to go. Speaks have a hard hat on your mind rattled and embarrassed.

You know, you name it, is looking at is he loud on the plane.

She's having a meltdown shall pound the table.

We had more than one time at a restaurant where she had a meltdown prior to the meal and the waitress that was kinda nervous about coming around us. You know it's not often that she has these but they are thinking this wasn't even worth it like this was a mistake and then I thought as I processed it over that. That night, and then the next day I realized that something I was really familiar with, but I'd forgotten that the entire Christian life.

And that piece of my life was a J curve. I was going down into death. A special kind of J curve called a love J curve which Philippians 2 talks about that were Jesus doesn't grasp at having a quiet weekend and I'm translating Philippians 2 and he descends into an airport with Kim my my daughter and I take a burden away from my wife and it gives you a frame for looking at life that just has so many side blessings to it so you've processed this this chapter, you decide. Okay, now that I go through this J curve, and I'm dying to self. I'm going to come back up that help you like what it do you think I'll do this again and bring Kim with me yes and I am doing it again and we actually traveled out to Little Rock together a couple times which was fine, unless there was a screaming kid and drove her nuts but what it does. It gives meaning to my suffering because I know where I am.

When when when you suffer whatever it is suffering often feels like a sucker punch, especially when it hits and your confused you don't know where you are and it locates you, you know where am I I'm not in pain on the back of the plane and in no emotional plane but it's a way of participating in Christ because when all of us are in these dying.

These J curves. What you do when you're helpless you pray, so you're in a fellowship of his suffering what Paul calls in Philippians 3 you are not alone. Your weekend. So your pride is weekend. Your will is weekend, and the resurrection. There so many different kinds of resurrection as a cut out of it but one of the most immediate resurrection is a humble self because I don't know how to do life you know Jesus, help me to be patient as I endure this being shamed, as it were, on the back of the plane that one of things that I found fascinating watching you teach the J curve was how you connected Philippians 2 I want to read it as something as our listeners may not be real familiar with the words and then I just have you comment on how that that works in terms of Jesus live the J curve. I just read Philippians 2 verse five says in your relationships with one another, have the same mindset. As mindset is Christ Jesus, who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage, rather he made himself nothing can Osos by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that than at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledges that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the father now as I read that now with the J curve. Yep, in my mind I see it yet.

I want our listeners to see it like I see it, because I've heard you teach it so walk us through that because I think you're so right when we get that mindset, it changes the way we live every minute of every day right and so if I know I'm in Jesus story then economic is a kind of a glory glow to it. Almost but but think of that the downward move the J Ashley splits into two parts. The first part, the incarnation, I called easy partner would ask you not talk to Jesus like how difficult was that, but you know to.

But there's clearly his self emptying and is talking there about his humility has humbling himself, and then the second part is, then he humbled himself to the point of death, even death on a cross and it's really helpful to see those two parts because the first part is like engagement and wedding the honeymooned okay yeah and then you bear the cost of that love. And then you have to work through tensions in your marriage. You know, having kids, so think of it that the first part is the commitment and the dissent and then the next part is where you bear the cost of it. So the first part I call a love J curve and love J curves always lead to suffering J curve so let's say it's marriage yet so you kinda define at the beginning it's the honeymoon right everything is wonderful right and then does every marriage going to a dissent not just every marriage but every time you concentrate in love. You go into a dissent and it really helps you to realize that like this is in the marriage problem. This is what the Christian life is like and what we do is work as were down of the nasty part. What we do is really rethink the first part yeah you know that I think you got a Morris look back up at the J and said look, if I hadn't made this commitment. I would never be in this mess, but that's the structure of love. It's the structure of God's heart you know and it's it's such a beautiful thing like usually if you're suffering with your kids who like teenagers or in a relationship where there's some tension in the marriage. A lot of the suffering is just humility is just for humbling. You know, or some is treating you badly and to receive that, like Jesus is in the J curve at the bottom of the J curve at Gethsemane to take that cup and receive the cup and say father I hate what you've given me. You know, and it is this act of the will transforms the whole story you know so you're no longer in a story of you pursuing life, but you're in the story of Jesus.

I'm thinking of our marriage when we were really struggling And I would say we were at the bottom. We had descended. Six months after our wedding day. She says the biggest mistake of my life with marrying you right now allowed to me and I felt the same thing back up the that at the bottom of your right it's I came to an end of myself.

I think that I have nothing but all I can do is offer myself to you and Mary Steve. I'm also thinking when our kids were little and I list for humbling thinking I am here have no life I have no I wouldn't waste their life and it was that plaintiff, another was a broken SF that I have you, Jesus.

I have nothing but you and it also revealed my selfishness my sinfulness and it was that apart from you. I can do nothing.

So you're saying there's a beauty to that point. That's when the beauty of Jesus emerges out of us.

I think all of us are perfectionists and that's not bad is just what's perfect so it's not so much my circumstances are perfect, but by continually living in and receiving these dying means that what becomes more and more like Jesus. What becomes perfect is my spirit is I begin to look like Jesus. So, his gentleness is forbearance his honesty. True in us is not like is just one side here so the perfection is not in the circumstances, but in the beauty of Jesus or I can check out right right there's part of me is I guess beautiful right because he said it earlier like you got explain how it's beautiful because a lot of us will we hate pain we get in that suffering we blame no one death. We want life. I want resurrection. I don't want so there's a choice have to make in the middle of that right that David and Wilson with Paul Miller on family life today will hear Paul's response in just a minute. The first all this week when you help reach more families with God's truth by giving to family life we want to send you a copy of KY must book the peace project a 30 day experiment practicing thankfulness, kindness and mercy and get your copy when you give this or when you call with your donation at 800-358-6329. That's 800 F peasant family L is in life, and then the word today. Right now, back to Dave and Anne's conversation with Paul Miller and the choice to trust God in the middle of summer that danger of checking out is escaping the J curve then it always lands you it is something worse in her living, but that's why it is so critical as you're going through this test to receive it to take the cop I would write that out as a prayer father.

I take this difficult spouse. I take this difficult child is an act of the will. So you're surrendering your internal hearts demand that God give you a pain-free life. When you do that you're entering Christ in new ways. Is that something you had to do an outline flight. It was just that evening. Later on, because I had been doing a lot of taking the cop I just the thing that the Jake we forget it because what we want is sort of the. The slanted line you know of you that you know got up. I probably right yeah yeah you know, so we want to go from the lower part of the J. The upper part of the J you know and and that's kind of our flesh is default so that keeps coming back in. As I thought about it I thought to just some of the ways that played out on that trip with Kim that Paul says in second Corinthians 4. He says death is a work in us, but life in you. So sometimes our dying is someone else's resurrection and the next day we went to one of the parks and lost her temper again because we missed the train to take some somewhere anyway. I called home and my daughter Ashley picked up and she said mobsters every five minutes. It's so nice without Kim. I really loved him dearly. You know when she's not getting her way to let you go so my dad was a gift to Jill yeah I forgot the pattern that the love J curve leads to the suffering J curve like if you got a love you're going to suffer and anything know that it doesn't throw you it was Friday night when we did that on Saturday I was speaking in getting filled and so God was giving the gift of humility, a dying to prepare me for the next days rising, so he was ministering to my soul which is so interesting because we never think he's ministering to our soul. Yeah when we are in a hardship or when a hard place that some yeah that's when he does his most beautiful work. Yeah. So sometimes the dying and rising are almost simultaneous, and you can see this in Jesus life that it comes to, particularly in Luke, where you'll see dying and rising paired so like at his baptism, the humility of his baptism, and then the heavens opening how magnificent his birth is but it's only shepherds that show up in a couple crazy guys from the East, you know, so there's all these pairings of dying and rising all through his life.

It was interesting that you say the Holy Spirit find your weakness irresistible.

Think of the J curve you read Philippians 2 so the down J curve in Philippians 2 goes all the way down to Jesus death, even death on a cross and then Paul has this word that turns of the word therefore God has highly exalted him and the idea of that word.

Therefore, in the Greek the sense of it is that that is why I choke up so easily, so bear with me because this is so often I live so many of these Jesus dying.

The resurrection is his father's response to his obedience is just it just takes your breath away so the resurrections are embedded in the deaths there like the launching pads.

So without the donning there's no rising I mean obviously we know that in Jesus life I mean, I've known both men and women who've endured in a hard marriage where the grounds for divorce and they've been honest with their spouse and it hasn't worked and you can see their dying affect their children. You know that it brings life that there's it's the father. Sorry, I should warn you about this and I feel these things are definitely hope you know that this God is so excited by our deaths by our our obedience, our ongoing surrender that his he gifts us with the spirit and that's what resurrection is. That's what he did with his son on Easter morning is gifted his turn he gifted his obedient son with the resurrection, and that in the whole Christian life that is not just dying, but it's waiting for an entering these resurrections that are just remarkable. When were talking about enduring and hard marriage and staying when were at the bottom of that J curve.

We are not talking about in doing any kind of abusive situation, physical abuse, right right you are in that situation it's safe it safe and get out others and get divorce but just get safe.

God can still heal that marriage but you need to protect yourself when he said that as children watch their parents die when he mean by that like it. There's a beauty to that weld. By that I mean assay appearance enduring in a hard man in a hard marriage. You're saying there's a beauty to yeah because what what you said earlier Dave about the exit. If you don't take the emotional exit of bitterness checking out and being yeah you know I was a bitterness to answer the constant quarreling. You see some couples that have been buried in their 70s and there still snippet at one another and you if honesty didn't work the first 50 years you might want to try different strata thought you had an ace on the right. You just as him to think about and so if you don't go through the doors of bitterness gossip or crankiness or quarreling. But you take the cop that God is giving me a difficult spouse and I'm going to take this cup.

What can I control I can control how I respond I can control gentleness I can and I can even do that I do the spirit of Jesus to be in me.

Yeah, you know, as I listen. One of the thoughts I have.

As we wrap this up is expectations are so critical for us to understand in marriage, but especially in our Christian walk. It's like when you're on an airplane and the pilot comes on and says hey that's her seatbelt. Turbulence is about to happen right when it happened you like oh right now I this, but I when we walk in the Christian life they can.

It's only a and B resurrection. There's a guy know death and suffering you it's harmful. But if you're ready for that make it easier, but it does prepare you right yes and just a very clear example that is in first Thessalonians chapter 2 Paul told the Thessalonians that they were going to suffer and were probably talking like a month later and so Paul has prepared them for what the normal Christian life.

Every new Christian audit here right away about the J curve that is not your life anymore. Your life is gonna look like Jesus life out of his love that refines that yes it's not that he had a bad God that wants bad things to happen. It's his love and his mercy, and I think is also very important that every marriage needs to understand the J curve, you are gonna suffer. There's going to be death.

It's gonna be hard yet, it doesn't mean your marriage is done, it me. Yes, you're living the life that God called you to be. And if you are obedient there can be a resurrection. On the other side and a surrender not tell me what that's gonna look like with God's gonna walk you through the J curve you been listening to David and Wilson with Paul Miller on family life to a teen years are coming and life's issues will change and get more complex and we would help you be there for your preteen. You can start talking with resource from family life called passport to purity you take 25% off with the code If you know anyone who needs to hear today's conversation. Be sure to share it from wherever you get your podcast and why are there simple way you can help more people discover God's plan for families is by leaving a rating and review for family life to tomorrow.

David and Wilson will continue their conversation with Paul Miller and explain how facing triumphs and suffering is a central part of the Christian life on behalf of David and Wilson. I'm Shelby Abbott. See you back next time for another edition of family life family like today's a production of family life accrue ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most

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